Science

Beyond COVID

More uses for new mRNA technology

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"You could ultimately use mRNA to express any protein and perhaps treat almost any disease," Moderna President Stephen Hoge told Chemical & Engineering News in September 2018. "It is almost limitless what it can do."

The messenger RNA (mRNA) technology that is at the heart of the first COVID-19 vaccines to be approved is now being aimed at many other infectious diseases for which there are no currently effective inoculations. Moderna, for example, reports early work on vaccines aimed at HIV, Zika, Nipah, cytomegalovirus, and influenza. The German company CureVac, which should soon release the results of the clinical trials for its own mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, is working on vaccines against rabies, Lassa, yellow fever, and malaria, along with a universal flu vaccine.

BioNTech, which partnered with Pfizer to develop a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, is also working on an influenza vaccine but has chiefly returned to its main focus of developing therapeutic mRNA cancer treatments. Just as mRNA vaccines stimulate our immune systems to recognize and attack viruses, researchers are now pursuing mRNA vaccines designed to recognize and attack cancer cells. BioNTech is currently running phase 1 clinical trials for its mRNA treatments aimed at breast, ovarian, melanoma, bladder, and non-small cell lung cancer.

Moderna is developing mRNA tumor treatments, including personalized cancer vaccines that deliver a custom-tailored medicine designed for one patient at a time. The company sequences an individual patient's cancer cells to identify up to 20 different proteins that are not produced in normal cells. Then it creates a vaccine whose mRNAs express the novel cancer proteins, with the goal of training the immune system to identify and attack the patient's tumor.

These personalized vaccines can be combined with other anti-cancer therapies, such as Merck's checkpoint inhibitor drug Keytruda. Such drugs break through the molecular shield that tumors use to hide from the body's immune system. Results from a phase 1 trial reported in November found that the combination was considerably more effective against head and neck cancers than the standard treatment. On the other hand, disappointing results from the colorectal cancer arm of the trial show that mRNA vaccines are not a cancer panacea.

Targeting easily degradable mRNA therapies directly to the sites of solid tumors is also a problem. However, startup Strand Therapeutics uses the tools of synthetic biotechnology to create mRNA molecules that direct their therapeutic payloads to specific tissues and organs. The company has devised mRNA circuits whose biological activities inside of cells can be tuned depending on the size of doses of common medications such as the antibiotic doxycycline.

The therapeutic possibilities of mRNA technology extend beyond infectious diseases and cancers. BioNTech reported in a January article in Science that its experimental noninflammatory mRNA vaccine stopped multiple sclerosis symptoms in mice bred with a condition mirroring the disease in humans, without causing general immune suppression. Researchers at the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Boston University reported the results of a study in which an mRNA vaccine directed liver cells to multiply in order to repair damage to that organ.

In addition, mRNA technologies are being explored as treatments for some inherited diseases. For example, Translate Bio is conducting clinical trials now for its mRNA treatment for cystic fibrosis. The company aims to deliver via nebulizer an mRNA encoding a fully functional version of the defective protein in that lung malady. Moderna is developing mRNA treatments for the inherited metabolic disease phenylketonuria.

One beneficial consequence of the current pandemic is that it supercharged the development of new mRNA treatments that will end up benefiting millions of non-COVID-19 patients in the coming decade.

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  1. With the power grab by the state and federal governments , nothing good has come out of this pandemic . I did get my Biden bucks yesterday, Going to buy some scotch and bourbon and bank the rest.

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    3. Going to buy some scotch and bourbon and bank the rest.

      Something left???

      Piker!

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  2. I’ve been told that unless and until the FDA studies this shit for 10 or 15 or 20 years that there’s no way to know whether it’s safe and effective. And these are SCIENTISTS™ at the FDA, so now you’re telling me to ignore the Science™? Ha, ha, yeah I’m not falling for any of your anti-science conspiracy theory mumbo-jumbo, I’m trusting the experts at the FDA on this one.

  3. If only we could engineer a virus that only targeted mormons. If there was some way to get the virus to only infect people dumb enough to believe the crock of shit mormons believe.

    Exterminate the Mormons.

    That traitor Red rocks may reply “copypasta.” You can tell what a goddamn lame, square, backwards Mormon he is because he uses stupid phrases like that.

    1. I’m guessing you were once fisted by a group of tie wearing mormons at some point. Did they have to hold you down or did you just relax and let it happen.

      either way, you’re their bitch now.

      1. No if any mormons ever attacked me those stupid pervs would be dead, I’d be a hero, and the world a better place.

        However you’re my bitch ya fascist pussy

        1. Do you have a mom, or were you just a spore once?

          1. I had a mother at one time.

            1. Was she murdered by Mormons?

              1. No she died of natural causes. She hated mormons too, but not as much as me. She was against killing them.

                She meant well, but didn’t fully understand how despicable mormons are.

      2. He already admitted why he hates them. He was mad Joseph Smith got to marry a 14 tear old and he didn’t.

        1. Never said that.

          You lie like your Mormon pals.

          Traitor

  4. “One beneficial consequence of the current pandemic is that it supercharged the development of new mRNA treatments that will end up benefiting millions of non-COVID-19 patients in the coming decade.”

    It’s wonderful there is an upside coming out of this awful pandemic. Happy Easter, all you knuckleheads!

    1. Yes indeed. Silver linings and all that.

      1. Until every gets cancer from the Jab.

        1. Was thinking about this earlier today. Then I realized that I was being silly, of course vaccines can’t give us cancer, the all-cari government will protect us from that. But our pets aren’t so lucky-the vet told me they won’t offer a 3 year rabies vaccine to our cats because of a risk of cancer-oh wait, vaccines can’t cause cancer, never mind. Must be an anti-Vaxxer vet.

    2. mRNA has been in development for a while (read “The Tangled Tree”, Quammen, for example).
      Pretty sure the Wu Flu didn’t ’cause’ mRNA vaccines so much as force the FDA to grant rapid approval.

      1. Keep trying to sound smart rummy!

        1. Nuts, only a 1-fer.

          1. The Rummy can count!

            1. 4-fer; not bad.

              1. Here’s a tip rummy: just flag and refresh. Don’t reply. That way I don’t know if your senile traitor ass read my comments or not.

                🙂

                1. Just 1-fer on the asshole this time.

                  1. You need one of your loser meetings.

    3. TWK:Somebody regurgatating progressive platitudes might not actually be progressive.
      They might just be highly intelligent with a strong moral center.

      # you’re an asshat.

      1. Happy Easter!

        Flattered that you go around bookmarking comments I make —- if it is a comment I made. Doesn’t sound like something I would say.

        1. I don’t; it’s in the linked article about yonder bar.

  5. It will be interesting to see if the historical narrative in 10 or 20 years is about how terrible the economic impact of the lockdowns were, or how we used the virus as an impetus to effectively end cancer and AIDS. And it could be both.

    1. You haven’t been paying attention. The narrative will be Biden and Cuomo saved us all from Armageddon.

      1. The movie? That was terrible. If they saved us from that I would be glad.

        1. Made total sense to pack a Gatling gun along for a trip to an asteroid.

        2. Please that movie was fantastic!

  6. Beyond Covid is that we have to find a new and even more scarier pandemic/Crisis.

    Unless you believe that climate alarmism is going to be bought into so hard that we don’t need another pandemic.

    This is not about a pandemic. It’s about control.

    We could right now have a way to cure all diseases with one once in a lifetime vaccine and it won’t change the behavior of those who desire control over every one else.

    So even if there are no more crisis, they’ll make one up.

    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

    /H.L. Mencken

    1. Mencken quotes.

      Read ’em and weep.

      1. Mencken was a prophet.

        1. Mencken’s works will probably be among the first to get burned along with Dr Seuss once the Department of Truth orders a purge of the libraries and Amazon

  7. Pretty sure there’s already a rabies vaccine.

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